Adjusting to the college lifestyle can be difficult for many students, but something about the comfort of a four legged friend makes it just that much easier.
Brian Quigley is the director of the Counseling Center here at Keene State College and helps put together the Paws 2 Play program yearly.
Keene State College residential life and the Monadnock Humane Society team up to bring certified therapy dogs to residence halls every Thursday night during the fall semester to help students become acclimated to the college atmosphere.
Quigley said that research shows college students are more likely to leave during the first four through six weeks of their college career. Events like this are very beneficial for students adjusting.
“It’s during that first semester that is one of the more challenging times in our [students] life for the college transition, and this way we can put a bit of a safety net and provide some stress relief during that transitional time,” said Quigley.
Quigley also said certified pet therapy dogs have been proven to promote emotional and physical health, and Junior, Amy Damphousse has felt those positive effects from participating in the program.
“I thought it was a nice event to have. It was very relaxing, especially being a dog person,” Damphousse said.
Likewise, Junior, Lindsey Sitaro said she felt more calm and relaxed after leaving the event and that, “If people are dependent on their pets at home but can’t access them it’s a good place for them to have that same comfort.”
Not only does this event serve as a destresser, but is also a great way to get to meet faculty members and fellow students.
For that reason, Quigley said that is why they not only bring in pets, but bring in staff and faculty members that students can get to know outside of the traditional classroom environment.
“We also know that students will make more of an adjustment if they make a connection with a faculty or staff member,” said Quigley.
Sophomore Cassandra Cini attended this event as a freshman last year and liked how she able to make connections with other students as well.
“I think events are important for campus because it gets kids involved with each other,
I was with a bunch of other kids that live in my building that I’ve never met before,” Cini said.
KSC Alum Justin Mahan, who offered a helping hand to this program in the past, explains how the helpers are beneficial for the health and success of the dogs, and the event.
“Volunteers help organize everything, you have the dogs and the handlers, but it takes more people to keep a calm atmosphere for the dogs,” Mahan said.
On the outside looking in, Maham notices widespread happiness at this event.
Mahan said, “They [students] look a little tired in line waiting to see the dogs, as soon as they walk through the door a huge smile widens on their face.”
The first Paws 2 play event will take place on Thursday, September 5th in Holloway Hall.
“Whether you’re an RA or a student coming to the program, it’s a nice laid back moment of the week to hang out with some dogs and people,” said Quigley.
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